Dolpo Trek

A challenging, remote trek with high passes and incredible mountain scenery.Found in between the Tibetan Plateau and Dhaulagiri Himal and still culturally Tibetan, Dolpo is one of the highest inhabited places on earth. It is a tough, mountainous region of azure blue lakes, high passes and fortified villages. Immortalised in Peter Matthiessen’s book ‘The Snow Leopard’ and Eric Valli’s classic film ‘Himalaya’, Dolpo still retains its air of remoteness and mystery. Our trek begins after a spectacular flight along the Himalaya to Juphal. We then follow the Suli Gaad River to the glistening Phoksumdo Lake from where we head east to Dho. Those who enjoy wild, untouched areas will love this initial exploratory part of our trek as we cross high passes with breathtaking views on our challenging route to Lower Mustang. This amazing journey finishes in Jomsom, from where we fly to Kathmandu.

Detailed Itinerary

  • Day 1
    Arrive in Kathmandu and transfer to the Hotel. No meals included for this evening.

    Day 2
    After breakfast there will be a full trek briefing. There may be time for last minute shopping or a little sightseeing before you transfer to the airport for the flight to Nepalganj. Located in the Terai (lowlands), the climate is sub tropical and the cool of our hotel will be a welcome relief.

    Day 3
    Usually the flights to Dolpo are early in the morning as they are subject to good weather conditions. The spectacular flight takes around 40 minutes. On arrival in Juphal you will meet the trekking crew, and after lunch you’ll have an easy three-hour walk to our first camp in Dunai, the district headquarters.

    Day 4
    You cross the river via a suspension bridge and follow the Thulo Beri River to its meeting point with the Suli Gaad River, which flows down from Phoksumdo Lake. The trail winds on beside and high above the river as we ascend the steep lush valley. We pass several small villages before crossing the Anke Khola, after which you will climb up to the campsite at Chepka.

    Day 5
    You cross the river several times over the course of the day as you ascend through the narrow gorge. You will be high above the river and at other times right beside it as the trail takes us up through forests of bamboo and conifer. At some points the only way to keep your feet dry is to use the crude stepping stones put in place by locals – this can be treacherous! The valley opens up after lunch and the going gets a bit easier until you reach the bridge that takes us to the small settlement of Renje.

    Day 6 - 7
    You’ll spend the day here acclimatising. The clear azure lake makes a stunning setting for our camp and there will be time to visit Ringmo village and its interesting monastery. The lake and the trail above are featured in Eric Valli's beautiful film Himalaya.

    Day 8 - 9
    The valley to the Baga La is wide at first and begins with a gradual climb. The valley then narrows as you climb and the trail becomes very as we near the top of the pass. A final steep section brings us to the top of our first pass, the Baga La, marked by several rough cairns. The views are stunning as we can see ahead into Inner Dolpo. The descent is initially on a scree slope and descends alongside several moraines to a meadow known as Pelungtang. Your camp tonight is by the Poyon Chu.

    Day 10 - 11
    Heading down the valley you’ll pass the turn off towards Nangkhong and the more remote region of northern Dolpo. Our trail continues down the southern branch of the Tsarap Chu past Mondo village. You’ll cross a wooden bridge over the river and continue down the valley past Dorje Phorba gompa and Trangmar (Red Cliff). Further on is Ga Kar (White Mountain) village and the Crystal Mountain School. Finally you’ll reach the campsite near Dho Tarap village. The village is a maze of mud brick Tibetan-style houses and it is also the village featured in the film Himalaya. In the fields you will see the villagers dressed in their distinctive Dolpo striped aprons. If there is time today we can visit Ribo Bhumpa, the village monastery, which was rebuilt in 1955.

    Day 12
    Now it’s time for the considerably more remote and exploratory stage of our trek, as we head west along the trail leading eventually to Jomsom. Some of the days will be long and there are several high passes. You will need to be willing to walk long days on difficult trails, as you trek through some of the most remote landscapes in Nepal. We may even change some of the campsites depending on the availability of water – so please be prepared to be flexible. Inner Dolpo has some truly awe-inspiring scenery as we cross a huge barren mountainous desert. Today we climb through Ship Chok, with its distinctive red gompa and then pass through Dho Roa. The broad valley narrows as we head towards the Chharka Pass. We camp in the valley below the pass with excellent views of the snow-capped Norbu Khola.

    Day 13
    An early start as you cross the Chharka Pass. The trail follows the Tarpi Khola and switchbacks up to the pass. From the top we are surrounded by wonderful views; the high mountains of the Mukut Himal, and, towards Mustang is a line of broad white snowy peaks. As you descend, the valley opens out and follows a stream past yak herders' settlements. You’ll set up camp on a plateau, where the stream meets the Kehang Khola. You are now in Inner Dolpo and the scenery becomes increasingly barren as we walk through this breathtaking multi coloured mountainous desert.

    Day 14 - 15
    We follow the Thansan Khola along the valley which broadens into wide plains. The trail climbs through the yak pastures called Molum Sumdo (4,860m) and continues on to the crest of a ridge. The landscape here is remote Dolpo at its best. Stark, beautiful and high Himalayan scenery surrounds us and the colours of the mountains vary from shades of ochre and tan to green and purple. Continuing past several river junctions we camp tonight below the two passes we must cross tomorrow.

    Day 16 - 18
    It is our final day of trekking but the views are no less spectacular. From camp we begin by watching the sunrise over Dhaulagiri and Niligiri before climbing to a small ridge above camp. We then head directly south towards Jomsom, the district headquarters of Mustang and thus back to 'civilisation'. Jomsom is on the main Annapurna Circuit trail and so there are lodges, apple pie and beer! We will stay in a teahouse for our last night as we bid farewell to our trekking crew.

    Day 19
    The flights from Jomsom to Pokhara are usually early in the morning when the weather is best. The spectacular 30-minute flight from follows the Kali Gandaki for most of the way. We usually have to change planes in Pokhara and we will have to wait here a while. The flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu takes just over 30 minutes and has great views of the mountains if it is clear. You transfer to our hotel for welcome and well-deserved hot showers!

    Day 20
    A free day in Kathmandu for shopping or sightseeing.

    Day 21
    After breakfast,depart transfer.

Date & Price

Includes & Excludes

  • Profile
    17 days walking with full porterage. Altitude max. 5460m, average 3800m.
    Accommodation
    5 nights hotels, 16 nights camping.
    Food
    Breakfast included throughout plus full board whilst on trek.
    What to Know
    17 days trekking, maximum altitude 5460m, average 3400m. Grade D
    The terrain on this trek varies massively, from clear trails used by locals to lesser-used rock, shale and screed routes over high passes. There are many high passes, several long demanding days and some narrow trails.
    This trek is recommended for those who are confident of their physical fitness and have previous experience of trekking at high altitude and be confident walking on rough terrain and across exposed slopes. The second half of the trek is extremely remote and facilities minimal, so a sense of adventure crucial.
    This is a fully-supported camping trek. We provide tents, dining and toilet tents, camp stools and tables. Staff include guides, cooks and porters or pack animals. On trek you are woken with a mug of tea and provided with a bowl of warm water for washing. All camp chores are done by the staff, and you only have to carry your daypack.
    Group size and age
    Min. 6, max. 14, plus leader and appropriate local staff. Minimum age 18.
    Tough
    Those experienced in trekking for a number of consecutive days, will understand how tough treks at this grade can be – stamina is essential, as walking days are long. We recommend previous trekking experience, preferably at altitude; you need complete confidence in your physical condition and the ability to trek for many days over difficult terrain.

     

Trip Notes

  • Do I need to take walking poles?
    If you are used to walking with trekking poles then take them with you, as you will probably find them useful especially on the way down. They are not essential though and the walk is manageable without them. It is mostly a personal preference but do remember to pack them as part of your main luggage to be stowed in the hold. If you decide later you'd like to have some, they are available to buy in Kathmandu.

    Any good tips for eating out in Kathmandu?
    Head down to the Everest Steak House in southern Thamel for a mouth watering steak and chips, well earned if you’re just back from trek. Finish it off with a cocktail in the legendary Tom & Jerry bar up the road!
    You can also head to Fire and Ice Pizzeria in Thamel, a great place with casual indoor and outdoor eating which is popular amongst travellers, and locals alike. This restaurant is a great place to meet for a morning cup of Italian espresso, or a hearty meal of delicious pizzas, pastas, ice cream and even a Grappa!

    Is there anywhere to store luggage while on trek?
    You will be packing your kitbag for the trek before you leave Kathmandu, and can leave your main luggage at the hotel in Kathmandu, where it will be stored securely free of charge. However, as with any destination, we recommend you keep valuables with you at all times.

    Any special food I should try in Kathmandu?
    Momos
    This Nepalese version of dumplings/ wantons is a traditional delicacy and a must try local dish while you are in Nepal. Momo dumplings are either steamed or fried with chicken/or buff (water buffalo) as well as stuffed with vegetables for vegetarians and have become the most famous fast food amongst Nepalese and can be found on the menus of most restaurants serving locals and tourists alike.
    Kwanti soup
    This mixed bean soup is usually served during festivals and gatherings and now has made its way in many of restaurant menus. Goes well with Naan or roti bread.
    Choela
    This is a typical Newari dish smoked meat (chicken; lamb or buffalo meat) tossed with spices and mustard oil. Easily available in most Nepalese and local restaurants in Kathmandu.

    I have some free time in Kathmandu?
    If you are looking to do something off the beaten track just for half a day around Kathmandu, head out to Bungmati and Khokana. Just an hour drive on the outskirts of Kathmandu and you will find yourself in this sleepy little twin village where not much has changed in terms of construction, profession of people (most are still farmers, woodcarvers and weavers) or the pace of life. The twin villages are 15 minutes apart and you walk through the dirt trails, with farms and fields on either side. Should you have extra time and still want to do something, the Tibetan Refugee Settlement where you can see carpet weaving to a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery falls half way on the way back from here to the Hotel.

    On a lodge or teahouse trek, how much spending money should I allow ?
    US $ 40 – US $ 50 per day is ample, but it is possible to spend less (and more!). Meals are usually pretty cheap but extras such as sweets or snacks will add a bit more to your budget. There are plenty of ATMs in Kathmandu, so you can withdraw more Nepalese currency if you are running short towards the end of your trip.

    Can I buy any equipment in Kathmandu before the start of the trip?
    Yes. There are dozens of trekking shops in the Thamel area of Kathmandu. Depending on how good your bartering skills are, you can usually pick up items for about one third of the price that you'll pay in the Europe / America and its more fun to bargain! However, please note we cannot guarantee the quaility of anything you may purchase so buyer beware.

    Should I get my Nepalese visa in advance or at the airport?
    Most of our clients choose to get their visas at Kathmadu airport. This may mean
    some time queuing, but the transfer bus won't leave for the hotel until all arriving passengers are through Immigration and have collected their bags. So if you have your visa in advance, you will avoid the visa queue but you won’t get to the hotel any earlier. If you'd like to get your visa in advance, please contact the Nepalese embassy direct.
    Please note if you are staying in Nepal longer than 15 days, you will need to ask for a 30 day visa.

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

Duration: 21 Days
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